Message of Vice President Leni Robredo at The Philippine Star: Women Today, Women Tomorrow
Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming together to talk about how women can take an active role in leadership. I hope we are safe and well.
All over the world, we see fearless, focused, and forward-looking women breaking the glass ceiling. Women help craft policies that impact the global economy. We are reshaping the landscape of advocacy and enterprise, and redefining what it means to lead in these extraordinary times. Amidst a crisis that is testing the resolve of even the most advanced countries, we find women serving in the frontline as healthcare workers, as scientists, as community mobilizers, as decision-makers.
We don’t even need to look far to find proof that women can get things moving in times of crisis. In our own communities, women leaders are rising to the occasion, finding ways around obstacles, and quickly adapting to the crisis. We see them braving the risk of infection to ensure that the young, the sick, the poor, the homeless, the most vulnerable among us are taken care of. We see them in the most remote communities, finding their way around obstacles, coming up with creative solutions to help their constituents, collaborating and listening, and acting with urgency and compassionate resolve. Their work further proves the important role that women play in society, and that no gender has a monopoly on the capacity to lead.
This bears pointing out, because it has become easy to equate being a strong leader with brashness and aggression— with a loud, domineering style of leadership that, more often than not, disempowers and frightens others. But as women leaders have proven, there is a more humane and effective way to display the strength of our leadership. This is through nurturing and empowering others to become the best version of themselves. It means channeling strength in a manner that is firm yet dignified, compassionate and empathetic, and thrives quietly yet decisively amidst adversity.
These values are what animate Angat Buhay Women, the OVP’s flagship program for women empowerment. While working with partners from the private sector, hundreds of participants from all over the country joined our Workshops for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs. They provide capacity training in business planning, and introduce aspiring women entrepreneurs to the basic concepts of entrepreneurship. My experience as a lawyer working alongside many women who were survivors of abuse has taught me that the first step to genuine empowerment is economic empowerment. Many of my clients could not leave abusive environments because they lacked the ability to provide for their children. Giving them the means to provide for their own needs and the needs of their families opens the door to larger areas of fulfillment, and the expansion of their dreams.
This sends an important message to future generations of women: That change is possible, that they can liberate themselves from the conditions which keep them disempowered, and that they have real, personal role models to inspire them.
But the work does not end there. Our task now is to dismantle, from top to bottom, the old, and oppressive systems and politics that hold back not only women, but all people who struggle in the margins. Let us reshape narratives, break conventional notions, challenge gendered roles, and spread the message that true progress is not the privilege of a few, but a right to be enjoyed by all.
Let us all rise as one society, anchored on competent and compassionate governance, led by empathy, solidarity, and love.
Thank you and congratulations.
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